- LG’s Crystal Sound OLED TVs don’t have any traditional speakers.
- Instead, they produce sound by vibrating their display panels.
- They offer precisely directed sound, but the bass they produce is thin.
LAS VEGAS – Your next TV may be missing a long-standard feature — a traditional speaker.
In a private space at the CES trade show here, LG showed off a new television that can produce sound without speakers. As the new television — LG’s Crystal Sound OLED TV — demonstrated, generating sound without speakers allows for ultrathin sets that deliver higher-quality, better directed sound than typical TVs.
Instead of producing sound with traditional speakers, the Crystal Sound TVs use their screens. The TVs have so-called exciters that are located behind their OLED panels that produce sound by vibrating the displays.
The technology has some big advantages.
The speakers on typical TVs are pointed down, meaning they send sounds toward the floor. Some sets do have speakers that face their audience, but they’re usually located in chunky speaker enclosures at the bottom of their screens.
By using their screens as speakers, Crystal Sound TVs can project their sound out to viewers without requiring an ugly speaker box.
What’s more, the quality of the audio the new LG sets produce is noticeably better than that of traditional sets. As their name suggests, the sounds they generate are “crystal” clear, sharp, and bright.
The Crystal Sound TVs also were able to create a surprising effect that I experienced when I saw them here. The sounds they produced seemed to come precisely from the objects on the screen associated with them. Bear with me here — the sounds were obviously coming from the TV, but I’ve never heard a TV that could direct sound so precisely.
For example, when the TV below showed that image of water dropping, the drop itself seemed to create the sound, rather than it coming from the general direction of the TV.
Even though the TVs use the the vibration of their screens to produce sound, those vibrations were invisible. I didn’t notice any image distortions at all.
Overall, the concept worked well, but it did have a big drawback — the bass the Crystal Sound TV produced is pretty thin. Without powerful bass sounds, the TV would likely offer a poor cinematic experience.
The thin bass is due to the limitations of the technology used in the sets. Their screens would have to vibrate much more powerfully to create bass frequencies, and those vibrations would likely distort the images they produce.
LG could potentially address the problem by including an external bass speaker with the TVs. That could bring them out of the concept stage and into commercial production.